South Africa’s Encounters, Africa’s largest documentary film festival, kicks off its 17th edition tomorrow, Thursday, June 4, in Cape Town, with screenings continuing there and in Johannesburg through Sunday, June 14. About half of its 30+ feature lineup consists of African films, with the remainder made up of a diverse selection of international festival favorites. The highlights below draw from the former:
National cinema is represented by such titles as Lebogang Rasethaba’s PRISONER 467/64: THE UNTOLD LEGACY OF ANDREW MLANGENI, about an unassuming but pivotal member of the anti-apartheid leadership; Riaan Hendricks’ WILD DOG AND MRS HEART, which follows the heartbreaking work of two animal control agents; Heinrich Dahms’ BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP, an exploration of the continuing, and sometimes deadly, struggle between fishermen and law enforcement; Nomakhomazi Dyosopu’s NDI VUMENI: FANISWA, which follows a group of black performers as they claim unwelcoming public spaces as their own; and Steve Kwena Mokwena’s JAZZ HEART (pictured), a personal exploration of the filmmaker’s relationship with his musician father.
Films stemming from elsewhere on the continent include Charles O’gust Kutu’s MY DEATH DOESN’T BELONG TO ME, a personal investigation into mortality inspired by the death of the Burkina Faso filmmaker’s father; Rachel Samuel’s ASNI: COURAGE, PASSION & GLAMOUR IN ETHIOPIA (pictured), a tribute to the iconic performer known as “Ethiopia’s Edith Piaf;” and Jasmina Metwaly and Philip Rizk’s OUT ON THE STREET, about a working class Cairo theatre that explores contemporary issues and the troubles of capitalism.